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Woman who fell on Red Line tracks at South Station as train was coming in sues MBTA, says driver was going too fast

A woman who wound up on the outbound Red Line track with a train over her in 2019 is suing the MBTA for the injuries she suffered, charging she wouldn't have been so seriously hurt if the train operator hadn't come into the station so fast that he could not stop in time.

In a suit filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Tracey Crehan of Dorchester is seeking payment and damages for the medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and disabilities caused by the April 20, 2019 incident.

In her complaint, Crehan says she slipped on the platform and then fell onto the track, something she suggests was exacerbated by "inadequate security on the southbound Red Line track at South Station."

Once she was on the track, train driver Paul Hutchinson "was unable to bring the train to a complete stop before the train struck plaintiff, because, upon information and belief, he was operating the train at a speed greater than reasonable at the time the train entered the station," her complaint alleges.

Crehan says that during the incident, she suffered "multiple injuries to her ribs and spinal column, including without limitation, a fracture of her 12th thoracic vertebra, collapsed lungs, head trauma, mental health trauma and significant memory loss."

Upon information and belief, at the time that plaintiff was injured, defendant MBTA failed to maintain the southbound Red Line track at South Station, failed to maintain the braking system on train number 1806, and failed to maintain adequa te warning systems on the southbound Red Line track at South Station.

This is at least the third negligence suit brought against the T this year.

In May, a woman whose leg got trapped between an Orange Line car and the platform at Massachusetts Avenue in 2018 sued over her injuries. The case is ongoing; the T claims she was more than 50% at fault for what happened and so it is not to blame.

In October, a Louisiana family up to watch a Saints/Patriots game the month before sued after they were mangled by an escalator at Back Bay that suddenly reversed direction. The family has since dropped the MBTA from the suit, but is continuing to seek damages from Kone, the company that maintained the escalator.

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Comments

Nope. Everyone knows that the T runs too slow, not too fast. And you see that huge hole on the platform? Even my two year old niece knows not to step into it, genius. Hopefully this leech is laughed out of the courtroom.

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93

I hope she wins, and it paves the way for the MBTA and other US systems to install platform doors like the ones in China and much of the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_screen_doors

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23

while we're at it, every subway system should have an exit side and an entrance side, like at McCarran Airport in Vegas. I believe the left hand side door open to an empty platform for people to disembark, close, then the right hand side doors open to admit new passengers.

i realize that is limited by available space, but its a really nice feature where available.

Nice to think about, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that would never happen. It's taken how many years (and still counting) to get the green line extension running? Not to mention that we can't even keep up regular maintenance so that stairs don't collapse, water doesn't fall down the walls, and elevators don't suddenly start careening backwards.

They'd probably have to overhaul entire stations to make this upgrade. The current MBTA management would never get us there.

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Instead they'd mandate slower speed limits coming into stations because of idiots falling on the tracks, and the ride would get longer, and they trains more crowded because they could run fewer of them, which would cost more than screen doors in the long run but we don't care about the long run, at least in the current administration.

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Just look at the TTC's York-Spadina extension, where the doors were cut to reel in costs. If we had China money and China construction costs (which of course is underwritten by Chinese labor exploitation and the use of poor construction materials, but that's another story) sure, we could put platform doors on every station in the system, but as you know, money isn't exactly being poured into the system as it is.

Discovery should be interesting. Was the plaintiff standing behind the yellow platform line before she fell? Was the train obeying the posted speed limit?

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Red line trains are under ATO. It regulates speeds and you cannot go any faster then allowed. You can keep the throttle in full power and if the code is 25mph that's as fast as your train will go on code changes it will drop your speed. And the woman was on the yellow line and fell into the pit as the train was coming into the station.

And then people like you will complain about the cost of the system. You can’t fix or regulate stupid.

The operator was going to "fast"? The redline trains speed is controlled by ATO it's not the green line. Green line train speed is controlled by the driver. Not the red line. They are allowed to go 25 in a station.

That is what this suit is, give us some money and we will go away. Hopefully it will be dismissed by a judge.

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What information do you have, that the rest of us don't, about whether the train operator was or was not speeding at the time of the accident? I have no idea; discovering that sort of detail is precisely what the trial is supposed to do.

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Is there a speed for not hitting someone who fell onto the tracks? Have you used the T?
Should they slow down before entering the station and proceed at 2mph...3mph? They come in going the speed they need to go to get fo the end of the platform .
Personal injury lawyers will sue a knife manufacturer for you if you cut yourself slicing bread.

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51

"Common sense" isn't always what you might think.

Remember the woman who sued McDonald's because she was burned by hot coffee?

Remember how the defense bar and the corporate bootlickers held this up as an example of ridiculous lawsuit excess, and tried to make her into the poster child for "tort reform" (a.k.a. absolving corporations of liability for product flaws?)

Until the facts of the case came out... and it turned out that McDonald's was serving their coffee a lot hotter than anybody else -- pretty close to boiling -- and that they had received numerous complaints of burns, but had ignored all of the warnings and complaints and continued to serve coffee that was much hotter than most people expect coffee to be, and hot enough to cause instant severe burns. And that the woman in question didn't just suffer a little scald, but suffered severe, disfiguring burns including partial destruction of her genitals?

While it is true that there is no feasible way to eliminate any chance of a train hitting a person who falls onto the tracks, it is also true that there are reasonable risk mitigation measures that might or might not have been taken in this case. We have no idea whether the MBTA's speed limits are appropriate or not, nor whether the driver in question was following the speed limit or breaking it, nor do we know whether the driver was otherwise operating reasonably. These are exactly the sort of questions that the court process is intended to answer.

Knee-jerk condemnation of tort plaintiffs without looking into the facts is just corporate bootlicking.

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And didn't get killed. She should be thrilled.
I'm sure it wont get dismissed. regardless of my opinion.

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The folks that sue the T might be the same folks that rely on the system. And then we're all waiting 20 minutes for a train after 6 p.m. On another note, other countries train platforms often have sliding doors

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In order for sliding doors to actually work, the train drivers would have to stop the train in the same place every time. Something the current cadre fails to do even twice in a row.

The first time I encountered doors on a subway train platform was in a northern European city in 1975. I entered what I thought was the train platform but was puzzled to see no sign of any trains or tracks, only a series of elevator doors on the walls. Soon, I heard the familiar screech of train breaks, and suddenly all the elevator doors opened up and people poured out of a train that had stopped with its doors precisely aligned with the elevator doors. I walked into the train, and heard a voice say "careful, the doors are closing" in the local language, after which the doors closed and the train proceeded to its next stop. I later learned this line was automated, with no train operators, which is why everything worked so seamlessly.

This was in Leningrad, USSR. The Soviet freaking Union.

If they want to automate the T, I'm all for it. I'm sick of idiot operators stopping prematurely at a station, waiting for everyone to stand up, and then hitting the accelerator, knocking them all off their feet. I'm tired of them playing with the the doors at every stop, sometimes opening and closing them three or four times. I'm tired of train operators yelling things at passengers, such as "use all the doors!", as if they were all five-year-olds. And they stop trains inexplicably in the middle of tunnels, sometimes for minutes at a time.

The goddam Soviets did it better almost fifty years ago. What does that say about the sorry state of public transit in this city?

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I always wondered why the MBTA has a legal department staffed with dozens of lawyers but spends millions of dollars on outside law firms to handle negligence suits.

This is absurd. There is no safe speed that a train operator can run the train when a person is on the track. It is not the responsibility of the T to keep people off the track. Any attorney of any honor sees the flaw in this claim. But then an attorney who thinks the plaintiff can get a quick $100,000 settlement stands to make a pretty penny for no more work than a bit of legal sabor rattling.

Why was the individual on the tracks? Pushed? That's an assault by the person who pushed her. Drop something she wanted to pick up? Not the fault of the train operator.

Would this woman have sued if she had touched the 3rd rail and somehow survived? There are law suits where people are hurt by the negligence of others. Cases like this force a delay in those folks getting their day in court and getting justice.

Given Covid the courts continue to be more of a mess than the underfunded courts normally are. This just creates more hassles for people who need the help of courts to get justice.

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Ah, yet more, everyone is responsible except me.

Every time I see one of these cases, it's such an indictment of our society and the failure of any kind of safety net for people. If she did get injured to the extent described, she's probably got thousands in medical bills, even if she does have insurance**. She was probably out of work for a good while, even if she works the kind of job that won't just fire you for not showing up. People trapped between a rock and a hard place due to an accident are like people who are drowning - they'll grab anyone and anything to get back up to air, it's not even a rational decision, it's just survival. Faced down with possible bankruptcy, unemployment, continuing medical bills for ongoing follow up she can't afford, etc... of course it becomes worth it to sue, even if she doesn't really BELEIVE the mbta is at fault. Most people commenting here would do the same.

Or maybe she's a rich asshole just looking to make a quick buck, but really, a little empathy and addressing the root cause here might cut down on a lot of these cases.

**and note half the time the insurance will require you to sue or they'll sue on your behalf to try and regain their terrible losses incurred in having to actually provide you with the healthcare you have the AUDACITY to need.